Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe off to renew rivalry in tense game
A win at Galatasaray will mean Fenerbahçe may win the title as early as next week, when it hosts Medical Park Antalyaspor in the next round. DAILY NEWS PhotoGalatasaray and Fenerbahçe will play out their latest rendition of Turkish football’s greatest rivalry on April 6 with totally different motivations.
Fenerbahçe is visiting its archrival with a bid to take another step toward the title, while the hosts are aiming to bounce back from their troublesome run.
The Yellow Canaries are counting the days to grab the trophy, as they have a 10-point cushion over Galatasaray and Beşiktaş, and even have a game in hand with just seven weeks to go.
Fenerbahçe has 60 points and is likely to increase it to 63 when the Turkish Football Federation’s disciplinary board will announce its decision on the Istanbul side’s halted game against Trabzonspor.
Fenerbahçe was leading 1-0 when last month’s game was interrupted by crowd troubles and it is likely that Fener will be awarded a 3-0 win for the incident-marred game.
A 13-point lead is already comfortable, but a win at Galatasaray will mean Fenerbahçe may win the title as early as next week, when it hosts Medical Park Antalyaspor in the next round.
As Fenerbahçe is marching confidently to its 19th Super League title, which will match Galatasaray’s feat, the hosts have other plans.
Galatasaray could win just twice in its eight matches in all competitions and its biggest aim in the league is to grab the runner-up spot that will open the way for direct qualification to the Champions League. Fenerbahçe will be serving the second of its two-year UEFA ban in European competitions for being involved in match-fixing, so holding the second spot is crucial for both Galatasaray and Beşiktaş, both on 50 points.
However, the derby games are never limited to point calculations, and apparently tension will not be missed as Turkish football’s greatest rivalry will be renewed come game night.
Fenerbahçe goalkeeper Volkan Demirel was one to start the trash-talking on April 4, saying: “Galatasaray games are the easiest for us. We want to beat them so hard this time so that all Galatasaray fans cry.”
The game at Türk Telekom Arena starts at 7 p.m.
Earlier that day, Kayseri Erciyesspor will play against Sanica Boru Elazığspor at 1:30 p.m. and Bursaspor will take on Sivasspor at 4 p.m.
Another title contender, Beşiktaş, will be closely watching the derby, after it plays its game against Kayserispor on April 5, 7 p.m.
The Black Eagles will be climbing to the second spot if it is not beaten at the hands of Kayserispor, which is sitting on the last spot, with 25 points, three from the safe zone.
Beşiktaş’s title bid was dimmed with a couple of poor showings recently, the Black Eagles lost twice and drew once in its last three away games, losing seven of a possible nine points. The poor away performances seem to be depriving Beşiktaş of a proper chance of challenging Fenerbahçe, but again, the second spot is crucial for Beşiktaş, who has not competed in the Champions League since 2010.
Also on April 5, the following games will be: Çaykur Rizespor vs. Kardemir Karabükspor, Medical Park Antalyaspor vs. Torku Konyaspor and Akhisar vs. Eskişehirspor.